Yoga Vasistha [English], Volume 1-4

by Vihari-Lala Mitra | 1891 | 1,121,132 words | ISBN-10: 8171101519

The English translation of the Yoga-vasistha: a Hindu philosophical and spiritual text written by sage Valmiki from an Advaita-vedanta perspective. The book contains epic narratives similar to puranas and chronologically precedes the Ramayana. The Yoga-vasistha is believed by some Hindus to answer all the questions that arise in the human mind, an...

Chapter LIII - Description of the mundane city

Argument. Interpretation of the Parable of the Air-born prince, and exposition of the Universe as the production of our Desires.

Vasishtha continued:—

1. The boy then asked his holy sire, who was sitting reclined on his sacred Kadamba tree, in the midst of the forest of the great Jambudvipa in the gloom of the night.

The son said:—

2. Tell me Sir, who is this Air-born prince of Supernatural form, about whom you related to me just now; I do not fully comprehend its meaning, and want it to be explained to me clearly.

3. You said sir, that this prince constructs for himself a new abode, whilst residing in his present body; and removes to the same after he has left the old frame. This seems impossible to me, as the joining of one tense with another, the present with the future.

Dasura replied:—

4. Hear me tell you my son, the meaning of this parable, which will explain to you the nature of this revolutionary world in its true light.

5. I have told you at first that a non-entity sprang in the beginning from the entity of God, and this non-entity being stretched out afterwards (in the form of illusion), gave rise to this illusory world called the cosmos.

6. The vacuous spirit of the Supreme Deity, gives rise to his formless will, which is thence called Air-born (or the mind). It is born of itself in its formless state from the formless Spirit, and dissolves itself into the same; as the wave rising from and falling in the bosom of the sea. (Thus in the beginning was the Will and not the Word, and the Will was in God, and the Will was God; and it rises and sets in the Spirit of God).

7. It is the Will which produces every thing, and there is nothing produced but by the Will. The Will is self-same with its object, which constitutes and subsists in it; and it lives and dies also along with its object. (The will of the willful mind, dwells on some subject or other while it is living;but it perishes when it has no object to think upon, and melts into insensibility;or else it continues to transmigrate with its thoughts and wishes for ever).

8. Know the gods Brahma, Vishnu, Indra, Siva and the Rudras, as offspring of the willful Mind; as the branches are the offshoots of the main tree, and the summits are projections of the principal mountain.

9. This Mind builds the city of the triple world, in the vacuum of Brahma (like an air-drawn castle); by reason of its being endowed with intelligence from Omniscience, in its form of Virinchi (vir-incho-ativus).

10. This city is composed of fourteen worlds (planetary spheres) containing all their peoples; together with chains of their hills and forests and those of gardens and groves.

11. It is furnished with the two lights of the sun and moon, (to shine as two fires by day and night); and adorned with many mountains for human sports. (Hence the mountainous Gods of old, are said to be the sportive Devas; divi devah divayanti).

12. Here the pearly rivers are flowing in their winding courses, and bearing their swelling waves and rippling billows, shining as chains of pearls under the sunbeams and moonlight.

13. The seven oceans appear as so many lakes of limpid waters, and shining with their submarine fires, resembling the lotus-beds and mines of gems beneath the azure sky.

14. It is a distinguished place of gods, men and savages, who make their commerce here, with commodities (of virtue and vice), leading either to heaven above or to the hell below.

15. The self-willed King (the mind), has employed here many persons (as dramatis personae), to act their several parts before him for his pleasure.

16. Some are placed high above this stage to act as gods and deities, and others are set in lower pits of this earth and infernal regions, to act their miserable parts—as men and Nagas. (The Nagas are snakes and snake worshippers, living in subterraneous cells like the serpentine race of Satan. The Bara and Chhota Naghores, and the Naga hill people of Assam are remnants of this tribe).

17. Their bodies are made of clay, and their frame work is of white bones; and their plastering is the flesh under the skin as a pneumatic machine.

18. Some of these bodies have to act their parts for a long while, while others make their exits in a short time. They are covered with caps of black hairs, and others with those of white and grey on their heads.

19. All these bodies are furnished with nine crevices, consisting of the two earholes, two sockets of the eyes, and two nostrils with the opening of the mouth, which are continually employed in inhaling and exhaling cold and hot air by their breathings. (These airs are the oxygen and nitrogen gases).

20. The earholes, nostrils and the palate, serve as windows to the abode of the body; the hands and feet are the gate ways, and the five inner organs are as lights of these abodes.

21. The mind then creates of its own will the delusion of egoism, which like a yaksha demon takes possession of the whole body, but flies before the light of knowledge.

22. The mind accompanied by this delusive demon, takes great pleasure in diverting itself with unrealities (until it comes to perceive their vanity by the light of reason).

23. Egoism resides in the body like a rat in the barn-house, and as a snake in the hollow ground. It falls down as a dew drop from the blade of a reed, upon advance of the sunlight of reason.

24. It rises and falls like the flame of a lamp in the abode of the body, and is as boisterous with all its desires, as the sea with its ceaseless waves.

25. The Mind constructs a new house for its future abode, by virtue of its interminable desires in its present habitation; and which are expected to be realized and enjoyed in its future state.

26. But no sooner it ceases to foster its desires, than it ceases to exist, and loses itself in that state of Supreme bliss of which there can be no end. (Freedom from desire, is freedom from regeneration).

27. But it is born and reborn by its repeated desires, as the child sees the ghost by its constant fear of it. (Every desire rises as a spectre to bind).

28. It is egoism (or the belief of one's real entity), that spreads the view of this miserable world before him; but absence of the knowledge of self-entity, removes the sight of all objects from view, as the veil of thick darkness hides all things from sight. (Without the subjective there can be no knowledge of the objective).

29. It is by one's own attempt in this way, that he exposes himself to the miseries of the world; and then he wails at his fate like the foolish monkey, that brought on its own destruction, by pulling out the peg from the chink of the timber (which smashed its testes. See Hitopadesa).

30. The mind remains in eager expectation of the enjoyment of its desired objects, as the stag stood with its lifted mouth, to have a drop of honey fall into it, from a honey-comb hanging on high.

31. The wistful mind now pursues its desired objects, and now it forsakes them in disgust; now it longs for joy, and then grows sulky at its failure like a fretful child.

32. Now try diligently, my boy, to extricate thy mind from all outward objects, and fix thy attention to the inward object of this meditation.

33. The willful mind takes at its will its good, bad and moderate or sober forms; known under the names of satva, rajas and tamas (as defined before).

34. The bad or vitiated form of the mind delights in worldliness, and by bemeaning itself with all its greedy appetites, reduces itself to the state of worms and insects in its future births.

35. The good disposition of the mind is inclined towards virtuous deeds, and the acquisition of knowledge;and by these means advances both to its soleness and self enjoyment (i.e. to its full liberation and the state of the highest Brahma).

36. In its form of moderation, it is observant of the rules and laws of society, and conducts itself in the world in the company of friends and members of the family.

37. After relinquishment of all these three forms, and abdication of egoism and desires, it reaches to the state of the absolute Supreme Being.

38. Therefore shun the sight of the visibles, and repress your fleeting mind by your sober intellect; and diminish your desires for all internal as well as external goods. (I.e. both mental qualifications and outward possessions).

39. For though you may practice your austerities for a thousand years, and crush your body by falling from a precipice upon stones;—

40. Or although you burn your body alive on a flaming pyre, or plunge yourself into the submarine fire; or if you fall in a deep and dark pit or well, or rush upon the edge of a drawn and sharp sword;—

41. Or if you have Brahma himself or even Siva for your preceptor, or get the very kind and tender hearted ascetic for your religious guide;—(The guru of this nature probably alludes to Buddha, or Jina according to some, or to Dattatreya or Durvasa according to others. Gloss).

42. Whether you are situated in heaven or on earth, or in the regions of patala—the antipodes below; you have no way of liberation, save by keeping your desires under subjection.

43. Exert your manliness therefore, in domineering over your irresistible and violent desires and passions, which will secure to you the pure and transcendent joy of peace and holiness.

44. All things are linked together under the bandage of cupidity; and this band being broken asunder, makes the desired objects vanish into nothing.

45. The real is unreal and the unreal is real, as the mind may make it appear to be; all reality and unreality consists in our conception of them, and in nothing besides.

46. As the mind conceives a thing to be, so it perceives the same in actuality; therefore have no conception of anything, if you want to know the truth of it.

47. Do you act as the world does, without your liking or disliking of any thing; and thus the desires being at an end, the intellect will rise to the inscrutable beyond the knowledge of the mind.

48. The mind which having sprung from the Supreme Soul in the form of goodness, is inclined afterwards towards the unrealities of the world; surely alienates itself from the Supreme, and exposes itself to all sorts of misery.

49. We are born to the doom of death, but let us not die to be reborn to the miseries of life and death again. It is for the wise and learned to betake themselves to that state, which is free from these pains.

50. First learn the truth, and attain to the true knowledge of your soul; and then abandon all your desire and dislike of the world. Being thus prepared with a dead-like insensibility of your internal feelings, you will be enabled to come to the knowledge of that transcendental state, which is full of perfect bliss and blessedness.